|Matthew 5:20-48 |
20 For I say that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. [In the next verses, Jesus redefines the laws to a higher standard, which exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.]
21 You have heard that it was said to them of old, 'You shall not kill, and whoever kills shall be in danger of the judgment.'
22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother will be subjected to judgment;3 and whoever says to his brother, 'Raca,' [in contempt] shall be in danger of the council; but he who says, 'you fool,' shall be in danger of hell fire. [From the Word of the Lord within: "Do not be misled; anger must be eliminated to enter the kingdom."]
23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and remember that your brother has something against you;
24 Leave your gift there before the altar and go your way; and first be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift.
25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him; lest at any time the adversary delivers you to the judge, and the judge delivers you to the officer, and you are cast into prison. [Jesus uses prison as a metaphor for Hell; he is pleading for men to do right and warning them of the consequences of doing wrong. Luke 12:35-59 gives more detail of this pleading.]
26 Truly I say that you shall by no means get out, until you have paid the last penny. [Notice! When in Hell you have paid the last penny for your debt of sins committed on earth, you get out; Hell is not forever. We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. 1 Tim 4:9-10. See Is There Hope for All for more details and more scriptures that support Hell not being forever.]
27 You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.'
28 But I say to you that whoever looks on a woman with lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.4 [From the Word of the Lord within: "A man must learn control of his body. Mankind's failure—sexual immorality."]
29 If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your body parts should perish, rather than your whole body should be cast into hell;5 [Looking on a woman with lust, committing adultery, is serious sin that leads to Hell. However, Jesus doesn't want us to maim ourselves; He wants us to come to Him so He can purify us through obedient faith to the commands we hear Him speak to us as we wait on Him in humble silence.]
30 And if your right hand offends you, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your body parts should perish, rather than that your whole body should be cast into hell.
31 It has been said that whoever puts away his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.
32 But I say to you that whoever puts away [divorces] his wife, except for the cause of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.
33 Again, you have heard that it has been said to those of old, 'You shall not perjure yourself, but you shall perform your oaths to the Lord.'
34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all; neither by heaven, for it is God's throne;
35 Nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
36 Neither shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.
38 You have heard that it has been said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'
39 But I say to you, do not resist evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other cheek to him also.
40 And if any man sues you at the law, and takes away your shirt, let him have your coat also.
41 And whoever asks you to go one mile, go with him two miles. [go the extra mile].
42 Give to him who asks you,7 and do not turn away from him who would borrow from you.
43 You have heard that it has been said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.'
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you;
45 So that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
47 And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do than others? Do not even the tax collectors [or pagans] do the same?
48 Therefore, be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect."8 [There are many scripture references to the requirement of perfection in the New Testament, (click to see), and in the Old Testament too! (click to see). Only the power of God can change a man to be perfect, and the completion of His perfection process of you is when Jesus appears to crush the head of the Satan under your feet. Rom 16:20. We must be righteous as He is righteous, 1 John 3:7-10. We must be merciful as He is merciful, Luke 6:36. We must become pure as He is pure. 1 John 3:3. But as he who has called you is holy, so you be holy in all manner of conduct, 1 Pet 1:15. So that we walk as he walked, 1 John 2:6, and as he is, so are we in this present world. 1 John 4:17. There is no flexibility and no equivocation in any of these stated requirements.]
8 Be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect. Notice, Jesus has left no wiggle room for the definition of be perfect, which he has commanded us to become. He doesn't say as perfect as is humanly possible. He doesn't say almost perfect. He doesn't say kind of perfect. He says: as perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect — a definitive qualification of perfect — an unarguable perfection. Now, Jesus doesn't lie; Jesus doesn't exaggerate. So, if he told us to be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect, then it must be possible; and it is possible through the power of God to mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body that are of the earthly life: fornication, impurity, inordinate affections, evil lusts of the flesh, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Col 3:5. For by mercy and truth iniquity is purged [from the heart]. Pro 16:6; — with obedience leading to righteousness. Rom 6:16.
This verse, be perfect as your Father who is in heaven is perfect, is nothing more than the summary of His commands in previous verses that define perfect behavior: anger must be eliminated, (22), don't even look at a another person with sexual lust, (28), don't divorce except for sexual immorality, (32), don't swear or take oaths, (34), do not resist evil, turn the other cheek when struck, (39), give your coat also to whoever takes your shirt in court, (40), do more than what people ask of you, go the extra mile, (41), give to him who asks of you or wants to borrow, (42), love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you, (44). Isn't that the definition of a perfect, sinless man?
There are many other verses that speak of perfection being required both in the Old Testament (click to see) and in the New Testament (click to see). Yet, this is THE scripture those who are devoid of truth, (not directly taught by the voice of the Lord), don't want to acknowledge. Various rationalizations of denial are made including:
From the word of the Lord within:
"I say this to your shame.
Though you have great knowledge of the scriptures and profess them, you don't possess of whom they speak."
Further, James even wrote that we must become complete and perfect, so that we lack NOTHING:
"But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing," James 1:4.
[Note! If you lack nothing, then you have everything possible, (including fellowship with Christ and the Father, raised to heaven, sitting with Christ in the kingdom, in union with Christ and God, free from even the desire to sin, pure, holy, sanctified, permanently cleansed and perfected, and protected from ever sinning again — all while still alive on earth), as Paul wrote the perfect man does: Until we all come to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; Eph 4:13. If you are a perfect man and possess the fullness of Christ, you have everything possible.]
Paul also wrote of becoming perfect and complete:
Epaphras, a servant of Christ who is one of you, salutes you, always striving fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Col 4:12
[This is a serious prayer, that the Colossae would stand, (be strong), be perfect, be complete, doing the will of God. This is not make-believe Christianity. This is speaking of being restored to the life and light of God, in union with God, controlled by God in thought, word, and deed — able to do God's will on earth as it is done in heaven.]
We have no examples of complete men in scriptures, but we do have examples of perfect men in the scriptures, (Enoch, Noah, Zacharias, Elizabeth, Job, Hezekiah, Asa, and David), and perfect men in the writings of the early Quakers on this site with an entire web page devoted to the subject of perfection that includes several testimonies from early Quakers who had attained perfection. Perfect means free of all sin; no longer sitting in darkness and walking in darkness; but walking by the light of God; no longer with the carnal mind and evil imagination of man; but walking as guided by the mind of Christ; but complete is completely undefined.
The imperfect, blind guides of Christianity often twist a few scriptures to support their preaching that sin is inevitable to death, which twisted scriptures are listed and explained on the Perfection and Purity web page, (click to see).
People are lazy in their complacency toward the broad easy way of instant grace and instant salvation, but Jesus insisted on works to all of the seven churches in Revelation, even insisting on perfect works, Rev 3:2-3; salvation requires works of obedient faith, but not dead works or obsolete works of the law. For more on the subject of required works, see Lie Number 8 in The Ten Deadly Lies of Christendom.
Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. Daniel 12:10
So, as Paul said: Therefore having these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Cor 7:1.
From the word of the Lord within:
- "Nobody became perfect by trying to be perfect.
- If you would be perfect, follow me.
- Everyone listen to what the Spirit says; this you follow.
- Everybody who believes the son shall be made perfect.
- The Lord's arm has been withheld; witness therefore man made perfect.
- It takes several years to reach a stage of perfection.
- Those who preach against perfection have a lack of earnest faith.
- Make no provision for the flesh.
- A man without sin has the power and life given to him.
- I give favors to he who is pure.
- See myself — thus no sin has a place in me
- Sin in believers is intolerable.
- The perfection of man frees from death; repent of your evil."
Through your fleshly efforts, many of Jesus' commands are impossible to completely obey, no matter how hard you try; complete obedience to all his commands is only possible by your going to God to be changed, by the cleansing and purifying power of God — through the inward cross of self-denial. Christendom has no power because they don't understand the gospel, which is the power of God; they don't understand the cross, which is the power of God; and they don't understand the power of his name. Christendom is without power, practicing a form of godliness; exactly what Paul warned about. 2 Timothy 3:5. But by the power of God, (released by hope in the true promises), you can be changed to be able to completely keep all of Jesus' commands, to fulfill the law, to establish the law, to become perfect, to become pure, to become holy — by believing in his true promises and going to him to silently listen — hear and obey. But until you do, you will always be locked into the slavery of sin, unable to love like he has commanded us, unable to show the love of God to the world, unable to be a true disciple of Christ, with no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ. To listen and obey what you hear the Lord command you, results in the Spirit mortifying the sin in your flesh; until finally the Lord appears to completely destroy the residual spirit of Satan that is in your heart, when he appears to crush the head of Satan under your feet, (a personal experience), and destroy him with the brightness of his coming and consume him with the spirit of his mouth (the sharp, two-edged sword).
According to William Penn, to God a perfect man is: blameless, sinless, a shunner of evil; yet can still make mistakes that are not sins, still be subject to disease, and be without perfect wisdom or glory. And quoting John Gratton: "So it is plain, men may be really, perfectly, sincerely, children or branches, yet may grow from strength to strength, faith to faith, in and by the spirit of the Lord, yet be perfect children, and grow to be young men, and overcome the wicked one, and still grow to be fathers, and still press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded. This is the perfection we mean; we do not mean such a perfection as that nothing can be added to it."
Another great early Quaker, Isaac Penington, also wrote thus about perfection:
That the Lord God is able perfectly to redeem from sin in this life; that he can cast out the strong man, cleanse the house, and make it fit for himself to dwell in; that he can finish transgression and sin in the heart, and bring in everlasting righteousness; that he can tread down Satan under the feet of his saints, and make them more than conquerors over him; this, they confess, they steadily believe. However, everyone that is turned to the light of the Spirit of Christ in his heart, who is presently advanced to this state, they never held forth except that the way is long, the travel hard, the enemies and difficulties many, and that there is need of much faith, hope, patience, repentance, watchfulness against temptations, etc., before the life in them arrives at such a pitch. Yet, for all this, said Christ to his disciples, 'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect;' directing them to aim at such a thing; and the apostle said, 'Let us go on unto perfection;’ and Christ gave a ministry ‘for the perfecting of the saints:' and they do not doubt but that he that begins the work, can perfect it even in this life, and so deliver them out of the hands of sin, Satan, and all their spiritual enemies, as that they may serve God without fear of them any more, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of their lives.
From George Fox's Cambridge Journal:
If you wait [on God] in what is pure in you, you will find and see, because God has given you a measure of his spirit, by which you can comprehend things and see the deceits. Now when the mind goes forth from that pure measure, which lets you see deceits, the simplicity is ensnared, and God is not in your thoughts any more; instead, the son of perdition in you sits in the temple of God, where he ought not to sit. With the birth of the Lord [in you], this son of perdition is discovered, and with the brightness of the Lord's coming [in you], he is consumed; that man of sin is revealed [in you], and so shall you witness the scriptures fulfilled. But you must wait in that which is pure, which will show you when your mind departs into disobedience, setting up Baal's priests (outward) before God, and that brings a distraction in the mind where there is a halting between two (you and God); for all of the troubles are without in the world, but Christ said that "in me you shall have perfect peace." Wait in Christ and mind him in yourself, (there is where you wait for his appearing). Keep focused inward, (stay seeking Christ within yourself), and do not follow the cries of lo Christ is here and lo Christ is there to distract you to outward seeking, you will have peace in a short time. You will later witness [see, experience] Christ, who is the substance of the prophets and apostles. The scriptures are shown to you within you (by Christ) to guide you to the Father, the Lord God of heaven and earth. By waiting for the Spirit of the Lord within you to guide your mind, you will find your strength renewed daily by the one Spirit that gave forth the scriptures. There is no confusion, but instead perfect peace. This Spirit baptizes into the one body, and this Spirit is the unity of the saints, who though absent in body, yet are present in Spirit, all being made to drink into one Spirit. This Spirit circumcises and puts off the body of sin from you, and you are sanctified through your obedience to the Spirit. You will come to witness the scriptures pure and clear, as they are without any mixture [of man's interpretations], as holy men possessed them and gave them forth. So holy men possess them and give them forth again and witness them again.
The only way a man can be perfect is: 1) to persistently go to God to listen and obey all commands that he speaks to you; 2) which eventually results in Him freeing you from all sin and purifying your heart and soul; 3) in such a pure heart He appears, is seen, is revealed; and 4) then He is truly your Lord who directs your every word to speak and every action to be done. A man is perfect because everything he does is specifically ordered by God, who is unquestionably perfect; and so everything he orders is perfect. Once a man has been freed of all sin, then all the details of that man's life are according to the commands and will of God. Scoffers might say, "such a man is only a robot;" but what they don't understand is that obedience is a perfected man's joy and pleasure. Why? Because his consciousness stands in the presence of God, whom he loves beyond earthly measures, and because he is fully confident that every word that comes out of his mouth, and everything he does, is perfect; both which advance the creation, God's kingdom, and his own maturity in godliness; and that is a perfect peace, an unbounded joy, and a happiness that exceeds anything man can possibly imagine. He enthusiastically obeys God in perfected love of Him; a perfected man's pleasure is to please his creator in whose presence he stands constantly.
The purpose of the ministers, (if specifically trained and appointed by Holy Spirit), is for the perfection of the saints. Eph 4:11-13 - nothing else — for the perfection of the saints. As Paul said: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, so that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Col 1:28. To deny perfection is: 1) to deny the purpose of the ministry, as well 2) to deny the scriptures as accurate, true, and divinely inspired.
NOTE! The reason God wants us to come to him to be made perfect is so that we can live according to "thy will be done, on earth as it is is heaven;" so we can show the world the wisdom and love of God by works that are directed by him. When you have been delivered (freed) from the sins and evil in your heart, God's light will shine forth in your heart, to guide your thoughts, words, and works.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. Eph 2:10
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity [lawless deeds, sin], and purify for himself a people who are his very own, zealous for good works. Tit 2:14
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Mat 5:16
But he who practices truth comes to the light, so that his deeds may be shown to have been produced [effected, formed, prompted, energized] through God. John 3:21
Now the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Heb 13:20-21
Jesus only spoke, judged, and did as He was prompted and ordered by God; to practice righteousness we also must be able to only speak what we hear Him order us to say and only do what we are ordered to do by God. This ability only comes after we have crucified our selfish spirit, as sin has been destroyed by the Spirit through bearing the inward cross of self-denial; then we are walking the same way He walked and in the world as He was with perfection, purity, and holiness. God makes us a fit instrument for his hand to direct in works of love, to show the world the love of God, to shake the nations, and to hold out the word of life and faith. God's works are performed by his people with great joy because they know all their words and deeds are perfect and virtuous, which glorify and honor God; thus they are working true righteousness.
Little children, let no man deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 1 John 3:7
Think about it. Only a perfect man can properly do works for God. To do works for God, a man has to be able to hear and see precisely how God wants the works done; he has to be able to speak only words supplied by God. Otherwise the works would not be perfectly done; and if works were done imperfectly, they would reflect poorly on God, making God appear unrighteous and imperfect. And so, no imperfect works are acceptable by God: Wake up and be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, which are ready to die. For I have not found your works perfect before God. Rev 3:2
But he who practices truth comes to the light, so that his deeds may be shown to have been produced [formed and powered] through God. John 3:21
Now the God of peace..Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ. Heb 13:20-21
Even worldly corporations extensively train their representatives before letting them loose on the public to "represent" the company. And so God insists that he should teach and perfect his representatives, (disciple them himself), that "represent" him before sending them:
The disciple is not above his master, but everyone who is perfect [purified, restored to the spiritual image of God, specifically authorized, and perfected] will be like his master. Luke 6:40
There are two stages of perfection, which Fox and Crisp both described.
In his Letter 222, George Fox wrote: "For are not here kindness and riches, for man and woman to be brought out of that state in the fall, to the state of Adam and Eve before they fell. And he that brings them here is Christ, and it is by his blood, it cost him his blood, his life, and he does not leave them in the state that Adam and Eve were in before they fell, but he sets them down in himself, who never fell, a safer state than Adam was in before he fell. Now who sit here in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, the first and the last, the beginning and ending, the safe place, in the wisdom of God."
You can read more about the two stages (or states) of perfection in the Footnote to Gal 5:24.
Before George Fox had entered the second stage of perfection and the kingdom, for about three years he was sent on limited, specific assignments by the Lord. But he only did what he was specifically told to do, exactly when he was told to do it; he then returned to his residence and continued waiting on the Lord. Plus, he was sufficiently perfected that he was able to preach, debate, and pray with words supplied by the Holy Spirit; so powerful were his words that even churches shook when he prayed within them. So limited teaching or preaching can be instructed by the Lord before you are completely perfected; but be careful to only do what he tells you to do, nothing more, nothing less; then return to your home to continue to wait on the Lord's further imparting of his Spirit by his words that you hear him speak to you.